According to pest control experts, an ant trap is one of the most effective treatments against ants and ant proliferation in the home.
However, any time you have a product in your home that is designed to trap and kill one type of animal, the risk to animals that you do not want to harm—like your pets—is always there.
But do ant traps really pose a significant danger to the dog that eats it?
And are ant traps actually poisonous to dogs?
These are the questions we will attempt to answer in detail in the article below.
In addition, we will outline some of the signs and symptoms that may point to the fact that your dog ingested an ant trap, and highlight some of the steps you can take to address this eventuality.
However, before we dig into some of the specifics of ingestion, we will first briefly define ant traps—what they are and how they work—and explain how these devices can be used safely in homes that also house one or more pets.
Ant Traps: What They Are and How They Work
Ants, especially the type that can invade our indoor spaces, are true pests.
This is something with which most people would certainly agree.
However, seeing only the occasional ant in the home—one or two ants per month—is usually not cause for immediate panic.
The real problem occurs when ants invade our homes in force and great number—especially in the kitchen area.
Once ants are allowed to proliferate in this area of the home it can be nearly impossible to get rid of them, and soon you will see them getting into your cupboards and into your food (especially sweetened foods), forcing you to discard those products, sometimes at great financial cost.
As a small child on summer break from school (ants tend to be more active during this time), I can still remember my mom trying to beat back the ants in our kitchen.
Cupboards and counters were emptied, sweetened breakfast cereals were thrown away, and there were more than a few cuss words employed as the ant killer Raid was sprayed liberally throughout our home.
I mention this scenario only because there are now many safer options for getting rid of these pests.
Insecticides like Raid—at least the formulary that was used back then—could be very harmful to pets, but there are now multiple ant-elimination solutions, including ant traps, that can do the same job in a much safer way.
So what are ant traps and how do they work?
Ironically, ant traps do not actually trap the ants that dare go inside.
If that were the case, only those ants that went inside the trap would be eliminated.
And when you consider that a normal ant colony can house hundreds of thousands, even millions of ants, you can see how that would not be very effective.
Ant traps are small structures with a slight opening that allows ants to freely enter and exit.
Within that trap is a type of bait—a bait that is eventually poisonous to ants.
The bait does not kill the ants immediately.
It consists of lightweight chemical-laden substances that allow it to be carried off by individual ants—carried off back to the colony where many ants can feed on it and eventually die off.
The more of the bait that is carried off to be consumed by the other ants in the colony, the more ants it will eventually kill.
So, perhaps even more ironically, for an ant trap to be truly effective, it is quite necessary that the ants who enter it do not become trapped, but rather carry off the toxic bait to their friends—and the queen.
What To Do If You Dog Ate an Ant Trap
If you are reading this article because your dog just ate one of these ant-killing contraptions, the first thing you should do is relax and take a deep breath.
Odds are your dog is going to be just fine.
While the bait in ant traps is indeed toxic to ants, these devices are relatively safe to be used around pets.
This does not mean, however, that dogs should be encouraged to consume ant traps.
These extermination devices do contain chemicals that could be toxic to dogs if consumed in high enough levels.
One such chemical used in some ant traps is boric acid.
Boric acid can be very harmful to dogs, so if your dog ate several ant traps containing this chemical, perhaps as you were readying them to be deployed throughout your home, you should watch him very carefully for any of the following symptoms—symptoms that could indicate toxic levels of ant trap chemicals like boric acid:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms. Any unusual gastrointestinal symptoms can indicate poisoning. Things like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool, or visible discomfort from cramping are immediate cues that your dog needs medical attention.
- Drooling. Drooling is also a tell-tale sign that too much boric acid was consumed.
- Fatigue and other whole-body symptoms. Symptoms such as fatigue, listlessness, loss of appetite and weight loss should be immediately reported to your vet.
Although poisoning from ant traps is exceedingly rare, if you notice any of the symptoms above, either alone or in concert with each other after your dog ingests an ant trap, a trip to the vet is definitely warranted.
Aside from potential poisoning, there is definitely a larger cause for concern if your dog eats an ant trap: bowel obstruction.
The materials from which ant traps are made are certainly not designed to be eaten.
Thus, if your hungry or curious dog consumes one of these contraptions, your biggest concern should be a potential bowel obstruction.
Materials that cannot be fully digested can potentially get trapped in the intestines, preventing waste from exiting the body.
This prevents your dog from defecating, allowing dangerous toxins to build up in the body.
Bowel obstructions can cause symptoms such as loss of appetite, pain, straining to defecate, bloating, vomiting and blood in the stool.
Bowel obstruction is a very serious condition that demands an immediate trip to your trusted veterinarian.
If the obstruction cannot be manually extricated, emergency surgery is a very real possibility.